I want my country back

Yesterday I spent $2.50 on the New York Times and splashed across the top right two columns of the front page was Jodi Rudoren’s piece from Jerusalem titled “Rebukes From White House Risk Buoying Netanyahu.” The article is a full-on assault on President Obama for taking on Netanyahu over his repudiation of the two-state solution and his election day racism, and it is disingenuous from start to finish, beginning with the headline. The aim of the piece is to buoy Netanyahu and submarine the US president. It quotes one rightwing Israeli after another–

Israeli analysts are now suggesting that Mr. Obama and his aides might be overplaying their hand, inviting a backlash of sympathy for Mr. Netanyahu–

and when it comes to the Palestinian voters Netanyahu slimed, says they rejected his apology but doesn’t quote a single one.

I’ve never seen anything like this before: the top space of the newspaper turned over to a war- and fear-mongering foreign leader to undermine the US president.

It would be one thing if this were just Rudoren’s application for an interview with the Prime Minister. I’m sure she’s under a lot of pressure to deliver one; after Andrea Mitchell and other TV reporters got interviews with the PM last week in which he tried to walk back his hateful comments, Rudoren noted that Netanyahu turned her down. Maybe after this hasbara service, he will change his mind.

But that’s garden-variety journalistic corruption, and the real offense of the piece is staggering. This is the journalistic equivalent of the Tom Cotton neocon letter: a foreign prime minister is given the top space in the New York Times to suggest again and again that Obama has gone off the rails. We are told that the president had “harsh” words for the prime minister and that the president has been “patronizing and disrespectful” to Israeli voters.

The president’s harsh words have been deemed by some to be patronizing and disrespectful not only to Mr. Netanyahu but also to the voters who rewarded his uncompromising stances with are sounding mandate for a fourth term.

How? The president’s manner has been severe, but show me the words that are harsh, patronizing or disrespectful? He has quoted the prime minister and made very clear that this is a defining moment. Israel doesn’t want a two state solution. There is not one harsh, patronizing or disrespectful word that Rudoren quotes, even as she quotes Israeli colonizers like Dore Gold trashing the president.

She says that the president is acting out of pique.

“Obama and his team had assembled this rage over several months or maybe a few years, and now it’s all coming out,” added [former ambassador Itamar] Rabinovich, no fan of Mr. Netanyahu. “I think they are overdoing it.”

Without a word about Netanyahu’s repeated insults to the White House, going back to the 2010 settlement announcement, the 2011 lecture, as well as the use of the Israel lobby to stuff Obama’s 2009 call to end settlements back down his throat.

Rudoren says that the president doesn’t have any strategic aim in his criticisms of Israel. Though he seems to want a Palestinian  state approved at the United Nations, and his criticism might be a “ploy to undermine Israel’s lobbying efforts against the American negotiations for a nuclear accord with Iran.” Those seem very strategic aims indeed, to end Israeli colonization and head off Israeli “lobbying” for yet another hot war in the Middle East. These would seem to be goals that the New York Times should be lending itself to.

The article goes out of its way to sandbag the story in the Wall Street Journal two days ago saying that the Israelis were spying on US communications with Iran and then leaking details to friendly congresspeople so as to undo the president’s diplomacy. The Times suggests that the story is based on unreliable sources and is false. Three Israeli officials, unnamed, “vehemently” denied the report and “several” congressional Republicans say they received no such information. As Justin Raimondosaid in linking Rudoren’s piece: 

The Judy Miller Times comes to the Lobby’s aid, covers for Israeli spying.

That’s what’s so mindboggling about the Times piece. The newspaper is once again lending its pages to aggressive Zionists. In the top spot, no less. To take on an American president in his foreign policy

I always underestimated the strength of the Israel lobby. I didn’t want to extrapolate beyond what I’d seen before my eyes. But this piece suggests that the lobby is imbedded in the New York Times itself, that our leading newspaper sees it as its job to support Israel when the president is seeking to reassess his relationship with the country– supporting a rightwing racist foreign leader over the president. Just what 47 Republican Senators did, and what Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush are doing now, what Robert Menendez and Chuck Schumer and many Democrats also do, out of what a more honest bureau of the Times has called “loyalty” to Israel.

And everyone knows what is going on. As David Bromwich wrote after Netanyahu’s speech:

“As if he anticipated the strange moment in which we find ourselves — when a foreign leader who asked us to fight one disastrous war now commands us to fight another on his behalf — [George] Washington said: ‘A passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification.’”

John Mearsheimer once said that the fight against pro-Israel ideologues was “mortal combat,” and I take his point. I call on others with any spine to decry the influence of the lobby in our politics, to challenge anyone who is serving Israel’s aims against the president. I want my country back.

Thanks to James North.